London Zoo

>> Thursday, 1 May 2008

We are lucky enough to live on one of Kensington's sunny garden squares. Living in the centre of a city, a garden square is a pretty good compromise between having your own patch of green, and the convenience of being 'in town'; you don't have to pay the multi-million pound fortune required for the luxury of mowing your own lawn - or indeed, have to mow your own lawn - but you still have access to uncrowded fresh(ish) air and a safe place for the kids to run around.

You get to hear the birds in the morning (until they are drowned out by the sound of the ever-increasing traffic as rush-hour kicks in, anyway), and you get to see green other than that on the District Line Tube signs. And, if you are lucky enough to live on our garden square, you get to occassionally glimpse a vixen bringing up 4 fox cubs.

Now, don't get me wrong. I grew up in the country, with all that implies. I know fox are classified as vermin. But those fox cubs are just so damned purty...

And of course, the Boys adore them. Although given the amount of time she spends dodging their attentions, I wouldn't be surprised if the vixen is making plans to take her litter and move somewhere a little quieter. In fact, this would probably be a wise course of action in any case, since one of our close neighbours is one of the Huntin', Shootin' and Fishin' brigade, and spends most of her autumn and winter weekends on a horse chasing our foxy family's country cousins with dogs. Or did, before the powers that be put a stop to that sort of thing. However, I still don't think our neighbour would take too kindly to the knowledge that these audacious creatures have moved in to taunt her, only yards from her back window.

I don't mind them, personally. I could do without their barking at night (if you've never heard it, think baby crying wildly. A yard outside your window. Wakes you up with a bit of a start, I can tell you...), and I'm not so sure I would be happy for the Boys to be outside in the garden on their own with an overprotective vixen and pups, but overall I like this reminder that much as we try, the Wilderness creeps in to the most groomed parts of the city.


There are limits.

And this evening, I saw a mouse in our kitchen.

Not even a cute, brown country mouse up for the weekend and doing a bit of a touristic explore of one of London's leafier districts. No, a dirty, grimy, cute enough if you see one running over the rails in the tube station mouse, but generally a germ infested creature that you do not - under any circumstances - want running around your flat.

And the worse thing is, I think it might have been here for a couple of days. I've caught glimpses, you see. Out of the corner of my eye. You know; you think see something moving, but when you look more closely, there's nothing there. Although, in fact... there is. (Shudders theatrically)

As far as I can tell, it's trapped in the walk-in cupboard at the end of the kitchen right now. Clearly, this is not a sustainable situation, not least because our fridge is also in there, and our washing machine too. Right now I am reduced to knocking - knocking! - on the door before I go in to fetch anything, in the hope that will scare it enough to hide away and not run helter skelter into rest of the kitchen. (I can almost imagine it sitting there behind the cupboards, hearing my knock and shouting "What?! I'm busy! Pooing being your tumbledryer, if you must know! Now sod off, and leave me alone!")

I'm hoping it will stay there until I can go and get a trap tomorrow morning. I'm also hoping against hope that it just wandered in off the street through an open door (not as impossible as it might seem; we had some work done out the back of the flat a couple of days back and it could easily have come in then - please God), and that once it's gone, that will be the end of it.

Note my use of the phrase 'once it's gone'. Confidently said, don't you think? Actually, I have no idea how I'm going to achieve that. I have drawn up battle plans to head off to our local hardware store first thing in search of a trap that will effectively take care of it and magic it away to some first class mouse resort (think Club Med for small creatures), where it will be so happy it won't ever want to come back to grotty old London town. Failing that, a trap that will kill it humanely - and then Husband can dispose of it. Of course, all of this will have to be done secretly, since if the Boys know that they have their own 'pet' in place, and that the wicked parents are planning on removing it, mutiny would be bound to ensue.

So. An invisible trap, that the Boys can't see. Which Husband can deal with. And then get the remains out without my seeing them. Not too much to ask, is it?

And who knows? Maybe, he can give the remains to the Fox. Waste not want not, after all...


Pig in the Kitchen 1 May 2008 at 21:21  

oh someone who suffered a mouse infestation, you have my deepest sympathy. please don't try and kill them one by one with traps (you do know don't you that there's more than one). Get some hardcore poison, (it comes in childproof boxes), it dehydrates them and they bugger off outside to die.

Oh i hated the mice so much. do you know what one f####r did? removed the chocolate from inside the humane mouse trap...and just placed it by the side of the trap. I am NOT kidding. I truly thought i'd gone mad.

the only way forward for mice, is death.

said the benign vegetarian.

God speed you to the poison counter Potty!
(and oooooo! am i first!)

Potty Mummy 1 May 2008 at 21:40  

But Pig - are you SURE they go outside to die? Not sure I could bear finding dessicated little bodies for months to come. And yes, you are first - of a cast of thousands, probably...(Laughs hollowly.)

Samurai Beetle 2 May 2008 at 01:43  

Oh poor Ratatouille! Just kidding. Any kind of vermin are an enormous aggravation as I can certainly attest with my recent "tick" infestation!!! Oh the horror.

ped crossing 2 May 2008 at 06:23  

Ugg, nature is meant to be in nature. That is only being polite.

Good luck, I hope pig is wrong and you just have the one.

Pig in the Kitchen 2 May 2008 at 07:22  

fairly sure they go outside. but which would you rather...having to deal with a few dessicated remains (dead) or having to wake with cold sweats in the night as you listen to the horrendous chewing under your bed?
(yes, that happened to me, 5am, husband away)
phew, glad i got that comment in before it got lost in your avalanche of comments. remember me when you're famousx

aminah 2 May 2008 at 08:35  

oh you poor could set up a trap...a little cardboard path leading up to the open mouth of a bin...lead the mouse up there by leaving a bit of food up there and then the mouse will fall in the bin and won't be able to get out and next day you and the mouse inn the bin can take a trip to the woods and mouse is released freely...

Potty Mummy 2 May 2008 at 15:04  

Hi SB, yes, not sure what is worse but have to say that ticks are not top of my list of favourite visitors!

Ped, not sure about the numbers. I think it's just the one, but am treating the situation as not...

...which means, Pig, I have taken your advice and have gone down the kill to cure route. As our trip is coming up soon I don't see any alternative - or we might come back from Aus to a proper infestation and that thought is just too much!

Hi Aminah, nice thought, and the route I would prefer to have taken, but as in the previous comment, time is of the essence..!

aims 2 May 2008 at 15:43  

You do know that mice generally look alike? So one might just be the cousin of the other.....if you know what I mean!

I'm sure Pigx knows how horrible an infestation smells....Yurk!!

I hate that smell - I truly do! Have smelled it many times out here on the prairies where the little creatures multiply by the billions!

My uncle so lovingly gave me a very old cupboard that he used in his kitchen in this old hole of a place out in a field. Anyway - it smelled of mice poo....and when I finally got around to cleaning it and painting it...mice carcasses inside....puke....

I'm feeling better now thank you.

Iota 2 May 2008 at 19:22  

I don't know whether to sympathise with you, or the mouse. This isn't going to end well for one of you.

We have ants, lots of ants. Last year, the ant poison we put down worked like a charm. This year, they are just lapping it up and coming back for more. Do you think their taste buds and metabolism could have mutated?

The animal I'm worried about in all this, though, is the vixen. Can your little patch of green sustain 5 foxes? And if not, what will happen to the cubs when they grow up and want to leave home, what with house prices being so out of reach for the first-time buyer? But seriously, can they go anywhere else? Will they end up squished on a major road? Will you and Boys find their savaged carcasses in your idyllic green patch, after a great territorial battle? Will you remember me when you're famous? So many questions...

Iota 2 May 2008 at 19:25  

I forgot to tell you that when I had my first, I was living near Regent's Park. I used to push him in a pram and go and see the elephants (which you could see from the park without paying the entry fee). How he ever sorted out about elephants not being native wild animals in England, I'll never know. Kids - they must be cleverer than we think.

Grit 2 May 2008 at 21:37  

after having both mice and rats here i can say, sniff, sniff, that death is the only option. make it quick, and i will shed a tear.

Iota 2 May 2008 at 22:21  

Hey, Potski Mumski, you don't have an email link on your blog. Could you email me, and then I can reply? I want to ask you something.

Potty Mummy 3 May 2008 at 00:40  

Hi Aims; mouse carcasses - lovely. Can't wait. And I probably won't have to, as the hard stuff is now down and waiting to do it's job.

Iota, the ants thing - we had that already, last week. Not to your levels, probably, but enough trooping across the wooden floors that action was taken on that front. So we went from ants, to mice. Please let the next vermin not be rats? And know what you mean about ranges for the fox puppies. I can only hope they will be able to afford a patch on a nearby garden square that will allow them to move from home but still pop back and see mum from time to time. Or is that my future I'm thinking of...?

And an e-mail was sent to your g-mail address, btw.

Oh Grit, I hope it's quick. Please god, let it be quick...

Carolyn 3 May 2008 at 03:28  

I almost can't even read these comments. SUPER YUCK. And I'm afraid to comment for fear that I'll bring some horrible infestiation upon myself.

I will say this: Good luck, and may the force be with you.

Metamorphic Sweet Wood Irene 3 May 2008 at 05:10  

When we lived on the second floor, we used to have field mice on the balcony who climbed into the trashbags, but I didn't mind them to much. Some of them however, moved into the kitchen, even though we had cats, and lived in the big cupboard from where they came out and stole cat food. We bought old fashioned kill 'um traps and they like bits of bacon in them very much. They worked every time.

Carolyn 3 May 2008 at 05:13  

ps - thanks for you comment about my "making babies" post. Much appreciated. Thanks also for your fingers and toes being crossed. I'm sure it's helping me already.

Frog in the Field 3 May 2008 at 09:03  

Dear Potty Mummy,
Erm, you have to do something..QUICKLY!!
I once saw a small rat in our kitchen, I was near hysteria and told Darling Husband I needed new windows and doors immediately. We had a few air holes, you see. I got my door the next day, a visit from the vermin man (very strange) and new windows very soon after. Quite amazing, wish I'd thought of it years before and made the whole thing up!
By the way, yesterday I checked to see if you'd written a new post and couldn't see one, yet today here it is, two days old!! Is this a conspiracy between you and Pig to keep my comments to the last? (sniff)

Frog in the Field 3 May 2008 at 09:07  

PS. I thought you were famous already!
Are you not famous? IS you isn't it? Your Majesty?

Potty Mummy 3 May 2008 at 21:46  

Carolyn, I know. It's gross - there are no two ways about it...

Irene, I'm hoping the poison does the trick, but if it doesn't then it will be bacon all the way - thanks for the hint!

Hi Frog, good call - do you think if I demanded a new wardrobe (the contents of one, that is), I might get one as a result of the mouse? Not as relevant as new doors and windows, I know. And yes, of course I'm famous (though 'your grace' will do), though not as famous as some bloggers I might mention...

Anonymous,  3 May 2008 at 23:35  

We've had mouse infestations on and off, mostly just after we moved into this flat. There were a few surreal moments, like the time a mouse ran along the back of the work top from the toaster, along the sink to the far corner while I was washing up. Didn't know I could move so far so fast.

Anyhow, we gave up with traps and poison and ended up blocking up every tiny hole we could find (radiator pipes and the like) and that did for them. In fact, just after we did that, I was sitting in the hall on the phone when a mouse appeared running up and down the hall - we'd obviously blocked its exit hole but not its entrance and it was completely lost. (I know that feeling). It was escorted to the big wide world in a cardboard box. After a bit of a chase, of course. They stopped visiting after that.

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